Our Greatest Albums Of The 70s, from 58 to 49.
58) GOING FOR THE ONE – Yes (Atlantic, 1977)
Received wisdom advocates that Yes’s golden age lasted up to 1972’s Close To The Edge, after which they forgot how to write songs until 1983’s Owner Of A Lonely Heart. In fact, Yes rediscovered their songwriting stimulus on Going For The One, an album of bookish prog rock with proper tunes. The title track almost bordered on conventional rock’n’roll, the epic Awaken balanced singer Jon Anderson’s prayer for spiritual enlightenment with a captivating melody, and it all came packaged in a punk rock-defying triple gatefold sleeve. Still the best Yes album nobody talks about.
What they said at the time: “One great track and four interesting ones. I hope they’re itching to get back into the studio and feed the inspiration.” Sounds
- RUN WITH THE PACK – Bad Company (Island, 1976)
Bad Company’s third album didn’t fly as well as the two before, and it failed to deliver another big hit like _Can’t Get Enough_ or _Feel Like Makin’ Love_. But it deserved better. _Live For The Music_’s primitive swagger is irresistible; _Silver, Blue & Gold_ and the title track are a study apiece in subtlety and melodrama. And listening to the rather questionable ‘jailbait’ rocker _Honey Child_ today, you can almost visualise the light bulb going on in David Coverdale’s head. By all means blame _Run With The Pack_ for the birth of Whitesnake, but don’t hold that against it.
What they said at the time: “All those supermanly strong, vibrant chords, packed with aggression and virility leave me cold.” Sounds
56) OLD, NEW, BORROWED AND BLUE – Slade (Polydor, 1974)
Slade’s fourth album arrived a matter of months after the success of Merry Xmas Everybody, the last of the group’s six UK chart-topping singles. It revealed that the Slade sound was evolving. Just A Little Bit, When The Lights Are Out and My Friend Stan retained the quartet’s usual hooligan traits, but the likes of Everyday and Miles Out To Sea presented a new‑found maturity. Reviewers began to compare them to The Beatles. Surprisingly, the contemplative nature of these ballads fitted the band every bit as well as their rowdier moments, such as the self‑descriptive We’re Really Gonna Raise The Roof.
What they said at the time: “A hit all the way.” Record Mirror
55) BURRITO DELUXE – Flying Burrito Brothers (A&M, 1970)
Post-Byrds, Gram Parsons and Chris Hillman pretty much invented country rock with their debut, The Gilded Palace Of Sin. They may not have sold many records but they had impressed Dylan, the Stones and the men who’d become the Eagles. Admitting inspiration had run out for their next album – “It was like pulling teeth,” guitarist and future Eagle Bernie Leadon revealed – a breezier song-set than Palace emerged that improved on side two, with Older Guys and Cody, Cody, and an as-yet unrecorded ballad gifted to Parsons by Jagger and Richards that eventually became the definitive rendition – Wild Horses.
What they said at the time: “Heading into simple rock and roll … it’s still a fascinating collection.” The Times
54) IN TRANCE – Scorpions (RCA, 1975)
This was the first genuine Scorpions album, even if they hadn’t completely got this ‘rock’ thing down pat. Guitarist Uli Jon Roth remained a weighty influence, and there was a skewed, Germanic take to proceedings. But there’s a notable shift in focus from the hippie ramblings of the band’s previous two records to more tightly focused and carefully structured songs: come on down Robot Man, Top Of The Bill and the title track. The album’s sleeve wasn’t half as controversial as the one that would follow it, Virgin Killer. Even so, the cover model’s exposed breast was deemed sufficiently offensive to be ‘blacked out’ (pun intended) in the US.
53) SURF’S UP – The Beach Boys (Reprise, 1971)
With its sombre sleeve artwork and eco-consciousness, this was the Beach Boys’ bid for countercultural acceptance. If they sounded world-weary, it was probably because it was their seventeenth studio album since 1962. A gorgeous pall hung over Carl Wilson’s soulful Long Promised Road, Al Jardine’s Lookin’ At Tomorrow was sublimely solemn, and manager Jack Rieley sang a moving confessional from the point of view of a tree. But it was mainman Brian Wilson, his decade horribilis well under way, who stole the show with the beautiful ’Til I Die and the baroque title track, salvaged from the legendary SMiLE.
What they said at the time: “A blast of truth at the time we need it most. Let’s hope Brian feels like sticking around a while longer.” Melody Maker
52) CHEAP TRICK – Cheap Trick (Epic, 1977)
Cheap Trick’s hallmark pile‑up of big riffs and bigger hooks eventually turned the Illinois foursome into arena stars. But before the hit 70s albums, At Budokan and Dream Police, came their underperforming debut. With songs about serial killers and paedophiles (Daddy Should Have Stayed In High School’s lyrics invite the now much-heard excuse that “They were different times”), this was Cheap Trick at their most basic. It’s obvious why Illinois punk pioneers Big Black later covered He’s A Whore – most of this debut has a menace and garage-band intensity that they never quite captured again.
What they said at the time: “Their lyrics run the gamut of lust, confusion and misogyny… Catch them before Nurse Ratched slices open their frontal lobes.” Rolling Stone
51) AMERICAN STARS N’ BARS – Neil Young (Reprise, 1977)
It was impossible to second-guess Neil Young by the late 70s. Having dispensed with Harvest’s country-rock formalism and the raw nihilism of On The Beach, his eighth album was an often playful amalgam of styles. When he wasn’t being a libidinous cowhand (Saddle Up The Palomino) or warbling mellow entreaties with guests Emmylou Harris and Linda Ronstadt, Young was either baring his soul with rare candour, as on Star Of Bethlehem, or else charging ahead with Crazy Horse on the epic bombast of Like A Hurricane.
What they said at the time: “Young has shaken off much of the desperation that has coloured the moods of his most recent works.” Melody Maker
50) EVEN SERPENTS SHINE – The Only Ones (Columbia, 1979)
The South Londoners’ second album didn’t have a single to match Another Girl Another Planet, and perhaps the band’s musical proficiency (notably John Perry’s guitar genius) didn’t sit well with the punk orthodoxy. In Peter Perrett’s narcotic, nasal vocals and world-weary words, however, they had ample attitude. His fatalistic sighs steered switchbacks from angst to aggression, from the gut-punch of Programme to the majestic melodrama of Curtains For You. Deliciously dark: the sound of a band out of step but in the zone.
What they said at the time: “Takes its time to reveal its subtleties and sting… develops and refines their unique personality as a band… uniquely English.” Melody Maker
49) LONG LIVE ROCK’N’ROLL – Rainbow (Polydor, 1978)
It ain’t all about Rising. Rainbow’s third studio album mixed the grandeur of that predecessor with new‑found commercial sensibilities – something bandleader/guitarist Ritchie Blackmore would exploit more fully with Graham Bonnet and, later, Joe Lynn Turner as frontmen. We’ve lost count of the number of times we’ve used ‘imperious’ in connection with Ronnie James Dio but really there’s no other word to describe his vocal display here. Kill The King? Breathtaking. Gates Of Babylon? Splendiferous. The title track? There’s never been a better rallying cry.